Sarah Dowie’s maiden speech

October 23, 2014

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Colleagues and the National Party team.

As I deliver my first words in this awe inspiring Chamber, I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here.  I am reflective of the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal, and the overwhelming loyalty of my supporters. 

Many try to get here and fail but with the support and sacrifice of my husband Mark, my children Christabel and Hunter, the help of my parents Ann and Alan Dowie, my National Party friends – in particular, Garry Thomsen. Anne McCracken and Jon Turnbull for their colossal efforts and now, with the mandate of the good people of the Deep South, I am standing here – humbled, feeling surreal. I also acknowledge our party president Peter Goodfellow and board member Roger Bridge for their encouragement and wise counsel.

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-election.  I have learned much already from your own experience as a Minister and Member in Opposition and, I now look forward to learning from you as to the rules of engagement in the House. 

I am Invercargill electorate’s first elected woman MP and the moment is not lost on me.  The Invercargill electorate has, in the past been coined conservative, but is now charging forward into a new era. 

The Invercargill electorate is a mixture of both urban and rural.  It takes in the Catlins to the east with its ecological fame. It includes a yellow eyed penguin colony, a Hector’s dolphin pod, and the petrified-forest. Riverton and westward encompasses rolling hills, wind-swept forests and stunning rugged coastline scenes.  To the north there is Edendale and Wyndham’s fertile plains.  To the south is Bluff with its oysters and traditional port activities, as well as Rakiura that contains our newest and most remote National Park.  Finally, there is the city of Invercargill, our southern-most provincial city – steeped in Scottish tradition and one which holds on to that pioneering spirit. 

It is an electorate of can do’s, aspiration, innovation.  Businesses carving out new niches, capitalising on the tried and true of the primary sector, education, and tourism.  Developing and manufacturing new products for export. It is a quiet storm which is building to success. 

However, Southland will be tested moving forward – we need to build on the industries we have and ensure we develop opportunities for the future.  Industry productivity is challenged through a failure to attract more skilled people and families to the province.  While Southland’s economy needs to continue to grow based on its strengths in an environmentally sensible way it must also diversify to sustain it.  It also faces some real challenges in funding for essential services, especially when the spread of those services is across isolated areas. 

Despite these challenges, Southland continues to box above its weight per capita by generating over 12 per cent of New Zealand’s total export receipts.  We enjoy higher than average household incomes, high employment rates and we are some of the happiest people in the country, according to the latest annual Regional Economic Activity Report. 

There has been much media coverage in recent days and months about the cost of housing in Auckland so I say to those  Aucklanders who want a great lifestyle and affordable housing … does Invercargill have a deal for you!

I am deeply passionate about the region and will fiercely advocate for development that has already been identified to create more varied jobs, generate more wealth and more opportunities for Southlanders.  I will assist and support those who have innovative new ideas and I will be vocal on the delivery of effective essential services across the region.  That goes for anyone who wants to bring their businesses to one of the most cost-effective provinces in the country.

Mr Speaker, I intend to champion Southland’s progression to make it a province of choice for our people and families to thrive in and gain their fortune.

I am a proud mother of two pre-school children and while I am acutely aware of the juggling that I will have to do to ensure I do the job well but also to maintain that all important relationship with my family, I am not afraid to say that having children has changed my perspective for the better and driven me to contribute at this level. 

It is very hard to articulate the change in perspective as a mum but it’s a bit like going from watching black and white television to colour.  Or for the Generation Y’s out there, digital to HD.  I intend to use this breadth of view and colour in my approach to policy making.  One that is holistic.  I don’t view my life in a silo and hence I am supportive of the Government’s efforts to break down the silos of Government in its problem solving.  My opinions are mainly moderate, centre-right, and my approach to policy making will be for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

I am also the daughter of two police officers and by trade a solicitor, so law and order and justice is in my blood.  I was raised with a strong ethic of  ‘you reap what you sow’.

The consequence of crime and the reality of it was in the forefront of my upbringing.  My mother’s first husband, Constable Donald Stokes, was brutally murdered at age 23 while in the line of duty in Dunedin in 1966.  I was raised with his photos on the walls yet the tragic end of his life has been etched into my mind from a young age. 

On 13 November 1990, death on the job was again a reality as my father received a call from HQ to advise that one of his best friends, Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, had been shot dead at Aramoana.  I remember him methodically and soberly getting dressed in his uniform and walking out the door.  The sum of the following 22 hours, with helicopters flying across the airspace of Dunedin and the general unknown, was not lost on anyone in Dunedin.  However, it was obviously more pronounced for those with loved ones who were murdered or connected in some way. 

The sacrifice of brave men and women who put themselves on the front line to defend our liberties and the way of life which we hold dear in New Zealand is never far from my thoughts.  I take this country’s security and our personal security very seriously and as such I promise to uphold it, making sure that the Police and other agencies have the resourcing and tools required to mitigate threats and reduce crime. At the same time, I want to assure equal access to justice and the rule of law.   New Zealand as a safe and fair community is something to always be vigilant about.  

But nurturing and growing a safe community is not enough on its own, well not enough for me.  I believe in the concept of social justice in so far as it relates to enabling every New Zealander the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  This cannot be done, however, by keeping people down on an endless series of hand-outs.  It’s about creating an environment where people are supported to take responsibility for and to navigate their own lives.  For they are best placed to make those decisions.  It’s about helping people gain the skills to get them into work and, with a bit of can do attitude they will find they have options.       

I believe as did the Honourable Ralph Hanan, Invercargill’s last Minister in -

“…. Further(ing) the real progress of all the people …”

Mr Speaker, I am here to serve all New Zealanders to build on the wins that this Government has already achieved.

I am here because it is our duty to build a New Zealand in which the next generation, our children, are proud of. Where there is opportunity to get ahead in a country that has a heart to help those less fortunate but also rewards those that have the determination to work and make their own luck.  I want our children to be pleased with the legacy we have left but also have the fortitude to build on this Government’s platform and drive forward initiatives for the betterment of all.   

On a lighter note, I remember Sunday nights at 7.30pm in front of the telly with mum and dad watching Our World, a series of fascinating nature documentaries that are probably responsible for fuelling my interest in science.  I studied ecology at the University of Otago and coupled with a law degree it became a powerful combination in helping my all round understanding of environmental issues and conservation.

It was a desire to still use my law degree but more of my science degree which saw me working for the Department of Conservation for five years.  However, the department at that time is certainly not what it is today.  The culture back then was that of dogmatic “no” and ultimately I became frustrated when well put together, environmentally sensible proposals were shut down with no logical thought to the greater picture of conservation. 

It should be noted that I believe there is a place for preservation in New Zealand but there is also a place for sustainable development.  The idea of protectionism which, is often seen as competing with development, recreation, and enjoyment can be effectively balanced.  We are ultimately part of our environment – we are not separate from it.  We are dependent upon the environment for our wellbeing and our living.  These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

However, this frustration was nothing but a godsend as it catapulted me back to private practice and wanting to stay involved in environmental issues at a higher level, I joined the Bluegreens.  Our rationale is that economic growth goes hand in hand with improving the environment and therefore, resonates with me. 

Inevitably I was drawn into the main stream of the National Party, party conferences, policy days, and candidates’ training – the final step that sealed my fate as to seriously consider politics as a career.  I am therefore sincerely grateful for the advice and friendship of Glenys Dickson whose gentle, well-timed, and highly effective nudges steered me here today. 

As Amelia Earhart once said: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

So Mr Speaker, what I have learned in my short 40 years on this earth and what attitude I will bring to Parliament is:

I believe a superior understanding of the rules wins every time – I guess therefore Mr Leader of the House that I will be a regular attendee at Procedures Meetings.

I believe you should play the cards you are dealt, play them well and then wait for the re-deal.  With hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way.

Fight hard but fight fair and never lose sight of who you are or where you are from.  Humility is a characteristic that should never be underrated. 

I believe that one should be kind because you never know when you may need kindness in return to get you by. 

On winning the seat of Invercargill I was told by a friend to “dream big”.  In response I defer to one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity, someone who achieved and inspired despite the odds. 

Helen Keller said: “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” 

I promise to listen, to learn, to work, to dream and to do my best to soar. 

Mr Speaker, thank you.


Todd Barclay’s maiden speech

October 23, 2014

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I am humbled to stand here to speak for the first time in this Chamber.

I am humbled by the sense of history, tradition, and culture. But I am also humbled as I look around, because from today I am part of this place.

It is a true honour to stand before you as the representative for Clutha-Southland.

We are proudly the largest general electorate in New Zealand. We embrace Southland, South Otago, West Otago, Fiordland, and the Greater Wakatipu. At 38,000 square kilometres, we’re almost the size of Switzerland.

I want to acknowledge and thank my family, friends, Clutha-Southland supporters who are here today, and former ministerial office colleagues, in particular Jamie Gray and Julie Ash.

Mr Speaker, congratulations to you on your re-appointment, and thank you for the strong voice you have provided for provincial New Zealand throughout your time in this House.

I wish to personally thank some very important people who are responsible for me standing here today:

Glenys Dickson, Tim Hurdle, Michelle Boag, and The Hon Roger Sowry – their wisdom, advice and sound, loyal counsel has guided me throughout my journey thus far.

My campaign team, under the leadership of Jeff Grant, John Wilson, and Glenys Dickson – we ran a spectacular campaign, and it was thanks to these fine people.

My electorate executive, under the leadership of Stuart Davies, Ailsa Smaill, Nigel Moore, and each of our loyal branch chairs and the Young Nats – thank you for all your hard work.

I would also like to congratulate my class of 2014 colleagues, all of whom I sincerely look forward to working with over the coming years.

But in particular, I want to pay special mention to my friend and previous colleague, Christopher Bishop – you ran a solid campaign, and I am truly glad to be working alongside you, once again.

Mr Speaker, while not growing up on a farm, I do come from a good Southland farming stock, and I hope to bring this down-to-earth approach to the House of Representatives.

Dating back to the early 1900’s, three generations on my mother’s side farmed sheep at South Hillend near Winton, and three generations on my father’s side were sheep farmers and trained race horses at Croydon, near Gore.

I was born in Gore, and my family moved to Dipton when I was about three. 

My parents had the 4 Square and mail run there, before moving back to Gore in time for my final year of primary school, and it was there where I completed the rest of my schooling.

I completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Wellington while working at Parliament, as an intern to Bill English, ministerial secretary to Gerry Brownlee, ministerial assistant briefly in the Prime Minister’s correspondence team – I think you were overseas at the time – and a political advisor to Hekia Parata.

I then moved to Auckland and worked in public relations and corporate affairs, before coming home when I won the selection.

My home, the electorate of Clutha-Southland stretches from Waihola and Taieri Mouth on the east coast to Milford Sound in the west.

Our people vary from the farmers and service providers in and around Tuatapere, Otautau, Winton, and Gore, Lawrence, Balclutha, and Milton. To the tourist operators in and around Queenstown, Arrowtown, Glenorchy,Te Anau, Manapouri, and the Catlins.

We also have innovators, entrepreneurs, and professionals engaged in business throughout the length and breadth of the electorate.

All of these communities have differing social needs and local issues – and deserve my unique representation.

Despite such a large number of the residents of Clutha-Southland living in our larger centres the major influence in the electorate remains decidedly rural. This is something not to be forgotten.

The primary sector is still the backbone of this country, and of our economy, and I look forward to making a strong contribution on the primary production select committee.

I consider Clutha-Southland particularly fortunate though, because in addition to our strong provincial foundation, we include a world-class tourism industry which plays a pivotal role in shaping our nation’s proposition to the World.

Queenstown’s unique – among other things, we’re incredibly lucky, that unlike many other parts of the country, our challenge is managing the pace of growth and development, not generating it.

Mr Speaker, I want to talk about the areas where I intend to make my main contribution.

There are three main areas that are, in my view, fundamental to future growth and prosperity in Otago and Southland. I intend to make a difference in these areas:

1.   The Primary Sector. As a region, we are heavily reliant on a strong, high quality and productive primary sector, and a savvy supporting service industry. Innovation and a drive to keep doing better is crucial in order to keep pace with a growing international demand.

2.   Second, in order to move forward, attracting and retaining more innovative, skilled and qualified workers down South is essential.  To achieve this, we need to systematically lift achievement at each point throughout the education pipeline.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Minister of Education, The Hon Hekia Parata. I strongly admire her relentless passion and conviction to bring out the very best in every teacher and school, and keeping our best teachers in the classroom, so that they in turn can bring out the very best in every Kiwi kid.

If you want an example of someone who is truly in politics for the right reason – she is that person. I look forward to joining you in this pursuit as a member of the education and science select committee.

Cause as you say – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

3.   And my third interest is trade. This is what motivates and drives our demand for primary sector growth and workforce enhancement.

We need to be constantly looking for opportunities to expand our export market base, which is why concluding a strong, dynamic TPP is critically important for the prosperity of my electorate and the country.

And as the people of Queenstown understand only too well, tourism is an important element.

New Zealand’s reputation and the experiences our visitors have while they’re here plays an important role in how the world perceives our country.

It helps that we have an outstanding Minister of Tourism, who understands the strength and dynamism of our tourism proposition and is leading the charge in attracting more and more high-value tourists.

My electorate’s tourism offering opens some pretty big doors and paves the way for a number of flow-on trade and economic benefits we as a country enjoy.

If I can contribute in any way to the delivery of tangible gains across primary industries, education, trade, and tourism and how they interact and intersect, during my time in this place, I’ll be proud to have helped enhance my region, and our country’s ability to grow its economic potential.

That is why provincial people deserve a strong voice in Parliament and in Government, on an equal footing to the representation enjoyed by those living in New Zealand’s larger centres.

I believe the key to the strength and success of the National Party in the future is to ensure that our party’s two core, indeed at times competing followings – urban-liberal-leaning New Zealand  and rural-conservative-leaning New Zealand – both continue to enjoy strong representation on an equal footing  in the highest ranks of our Party.

Because it’s important that we remain balanced in our views, realistic in our expectations, and resonant with middle New Zealand, that’s why I believe that our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, John Key and Bill English, make an exceptional, complementary team.

Mr Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, when I stand before you in this House, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings.

I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded, and informed legislator.

Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, when I stand before you in your Caucus, representing my view and the view of my people I do so with an appreciation of the true honour and responsibility that privilege brings. I do so with the intention of being a strong, fair-minded and informed member of your Caucus.

Parliamentary colleagues, for those of you unaccustomed to the Deep South,  let me introduce you to the people I humbly represent:

The people of Clutha-Southland exemplify the best of New Zealand. Of course, I would say that!

We are conservative yet innovative, astute yet modest, quiet yet ambitious, hardworking yet social. We are proud New Zealanders.

Our values are straight forward, straight talking, uncomplicated in our views, accountable to our actions, solid in our beliefs.

My values are simple. They are based on personal responsibility, free enterprise, and choice.

These are the values I will represent in our Parliament, Mr Speaker.

As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said: “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous, and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.”

For my part, I believe that freedom and choice are fundamental rights of all New Zealanders. But we, as individuals, need to be responsible for the choices we make and for the actions we take.

Mr Speaker, I promise my constituents that as their MP, I will act in order to preserve those values that they hold dear. And let there be no misunderstanding, I will act, and it begins today.

I understand that my leadership as a representative requires much more than acting with no conscience.  I genuinely believe in my electorate’s values, and believe in my people. I will represent my constituency honestly and strongly.

It is here I want to acknowledge the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

I had the privilege of working for Gerry over Pike River and for part of the Canterbury Earthquakes. Gerry, it is your true selflessness, humble wisdom, and unconditional loyalty to the people of Canterbury that I believe, will see the history books mark you down as one of New Zealand’s greatest political leaders.

Mr Speaker, in the place that I call home we believe in phrases like individual responsibility, hard work, and equal opportunity.

Clutha-Southland is a microcosm of the National Party. We are a microcosm of heartland New Zealand.

As I begin my political career, I ask myself the question – what type of country do we want to be in 20 years’ time?

I know what type of country I believe in – a dynamic, innovative, determined country. Forward looking and forward thinking. That is the vision of my generation.

I am 24 years old. Like Marilyn Waring, Simon Upton, and Nick Smith once were – I am the youngest Member of this House.

People at my age are making choices that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They are marrying, buying houses, establishing career paths, and having children. It is important that when we are in this House we consider these people. I hope that I will provide a voice for my generation in this place

Although some young people might not realise it, politics and the other things that governments do affect all our lives.  Therefore, we must be in constant pursuit of delivering strong, stable, decisive government.

Consistent government; predictable government. That’s what we aim for and aim to deliver as part of Team Key.

It is an exciting future built on a platform of six years of good government.

I think it’s important and I will aspire to maintain those standards so that the senior generation can thrive; so that my generation can thrive; so that future generations can thrive.

In 1990, the year I was born, Simon William English came into this House. I’m the same age as his second oldest son, Thomas. He and I went to the same Play Group. I’ve literally known Bill and the family all of my life. And I want to acknowledge him, as the most humble, selfless, focused politician I’ve ever met.

The Hon Bill English, along with his wife Dr Mary English, and their family have served the people of Clutha-Southland very well for 24 years.

They are people of true heart, and true courage. That makes them truly heroic in the eyes of us all.

As our local MP, Bill was never afraid to stand up to those he opposed.

He was, and continues to be, a man of judgment who understands what really matters. He was, and continues to be, a man of integrity who would never run out on the principles he believes in, or the people who believe in him.

And he was, and continues to be, a man who understands the trust of those whose hopes he carries.

Bill English is a man devoted to serving the public interest. Thank you, for representing us proudly and strongly and setting such a high standard that I will strive to live up to.

To the good people of Clutha-Southland, as we look forward and begin shaping our future, we must never forget where we’ve came from, nor the people whose blood sweat and tears founded the path which we walk on today. Nor, should we lose touch with the present.

As I look up to the Gallery here today, I see a group of people who mean the world to me.

My family: mum Maree, dad Paul, sister Kelsey, Brodie Andrews and Margaret Williamson. As they all know only too well, politics is my passion.

The highest tribute I can pay to my family is that each of you are people of warmth, support and loyalty, and unconditional love.

Living up to the values you possess is what continues to make me strive to make you proud.

Without you all, I wouldn’t be here today. And it is the thought of you that will bring me back here tomorrow.

Now’s the time for me to stop talking and to start serving.

For as long as the people of Clutha-Southland will have me my time is their time – this is their time.

Mr Speaker, I am from them. I am them. And I am proud to be representing them!


Wrong process, wrong person

October 22, 2014

When National launched its constitutional review it chose Steven Joyce to lead it.

He was a successful businessman who supported National but had never been intimately involved with the party and came to the process without baggage.

In stark contrast, Labour has launched its constitutional review and has chosen Bryan Gould to lead it.

Chris Keall nails the problem with that:

. . . if you must have a review panel, head it by someone who knows how to win elections. . .

Gould is a smart man, I’m sure. But he’s not a winner in the game of politics. The ex-pat was a senior MP between 1979 and 1992 – a period of course dominated by Thatcher and the Conservatives as Labour struggled to make itself look anything close to electable.

Gould has poured vitriol on Tony Blair – the man whose up-beat style and move to the centre saw the party finally return to power.

Many in Labour will agree with Gould’s critiques of Blair for going too far in greasing up the press, moderating policy, and poodling to America on Iraq. In various newspaper editorials and his memoirs, Gould won the moral high ground hands down. But he lacks Blair’s ruthless and practical streak, and focus on likeability, that’s so necessary to win power.

A key question for NZ Labour is whether to shore up the party’s base with hard left polices or move to the centre, where elections are won. No prizes for guessing where the academic Gould will land.

Just last Thursday, Gould was comparing Key to Kim Jong-un. Great lorks if you’re a humour writer for the Internet Party. Not so much if you’re trying to talk to middle NZ. . .

Labour’s lost the election for several reasons and because it has several problems, none of which are likely to be solved by a review led by someone who can’t talk to middle New Zealand.

In another contrast, National had its review, reformed its constitution and reorganised then changed its leader.

Labour is changing its leader as the review process begins.

When it’s got the process wrong and chosen the wrong man to lead it, the chances of a successful outcome aren’t high.

 


Labour pains, National delivers

October 17, 2014

Trans Tasman on Labour’s pains:

Members of the party of co-operation, collectivism, and fraternal brotherhood and sisterhood were all over the media this week publicly knifing each other. This is to say nothing of the usual susurration of behind the scenes snarkiness from the various sides of the Labour Party factions. We can expect to hear much, between now and the leadership ballot next month, about “Labour values.”
One can’t help but get the feeling this does not mean what Labour’s activists think it means.
Certainly the last leader but one, David Shearer, did not seem to be full of the milk of human kindness for his fellow party members. Shearer called on his successor, David Cunliffe, to withdraw from politics completely now Cunliffe has ruled out another leadership bid. This looked like a brief outburst – and certainly the party’s organisational wing would be horrified at the prospect of a by-election in New Lynn or anywhere, given the current state of Labour’s funds.
But Shearer did not just say this once. He went on radio and also spoke to journalists outside the party’s caucus room. Revenge is a dish best eaten cold, they say, and Shearer was tucking in to a very large ice-cream tub of the stuff. Mostly, Shearer says, he is concerned Cunliffe’s supporters will undermine whoever gets the leadership in the same way they undermined him. It is not a bad assumption to make. The Labour Left still – somewhat bizarrely – see Cunliffe as a champion of red blooded socialism and if their second choice, acting leader David Parker, doesn’t get the job they will turn feral.
But Cunliffe isn’t going anywhere, it seems. . .

While Labour is engrossed in its own pains, National has negotiated coalition agreements, its ministers have been sworn in and are already working for New Zealand.


In praise of erudition

September 27, 2014

National’s candidate for Rongatai, Hon Chris Finlayson writes on his campaign for the elucidation of readers of the Spectator:

Every three years in New Zealand, incumbent politicians must hit the campaign trail. Since 2008, I have chased votes in the Rongotai electorate. My Labour opponent, Annette King, has held the seat since 1996. She is a fine parliamentarian, a thoroughly nice person, and also a distant cousin on my mother’s side. ‘Chris says if he wins Rongotai, he’ll ask for a recount,’ she delights in telling voters. This is supposed to be a joke but, under New Zealand’s mixed member proportional voting system, winning individual seats is not the be all and end all. The number of seats a party has in Parliament is determined by a party vote, and local representatives by a separate electorate vote. As a list MP standing in a traditional left seat my job is to maximise the party vote for National.

The Rongotai electorate takes in Wellington’s rugged southern coast, the Miramar Peninsula and the working class suburbs of Newtown and Berhampore, which are fast gentrifying and turning from red to green. Its furthest boundary is the Chatham Islands, an archipelago around 700km from the mainland. It is a place of isolated natural beauty, rich cultural history, abundant fisheries and distinctively salty mutton. On my most recent trip, the twin-propeller plane was struck by lightning and my stay had to be extended by two days. There is no cellular reception in the Chathams, adding to its attractiveness.

The Newtown debate is usually the rowdiest of the campaign. In 2011, I was shoved by an Anglican vicar as I made my way out. This year, there are ten candidates lined up across the stage facing the audience squeezed into a wooden church hall. The crowd has a very particular strand of rule-bound, suburban radicalism: every mention of ‘revolution’ is cheered, but the audience will not allow proceedings to begin while party signs are blocking the fire exits. Along with Annette, the candidates include Russel Norman, a Tasmanian who relocated to New Zealand to work for the Green Party and now, holding the office of Male Co-leader, campaigns against foreign ownership. He finds himself fighting candidates from the populist Conservative and New Zealand First parties for the xenophobe vote. The Newtown audience thinks I am insufferably right wing but also thinks the same about the Greens and Labour. Dr Norman is accused of dismissing victims of sexual assault. Annette King gets a frosty reception for her party’s track record on Maori issues. I am roundly booed when I say the audience is ‘redistributionist’. More popular are a young man dressed as a shark and representing the Climate Party (his contribution to the debate is ‘learn to swim’) and also the candidate for the Patriotic Revolutionary Front. The PRF wants a benevolent dictatorship and has a leaflet showing a composite picture of Stalin and Einstein as its ideal leader. . .

It’s not just what he says but the way that he says it.

Oh to have the ability to write so eruditely, and also to have been a better Latin scholar.

Can anyone translate his quote (in the paragraph which follows the extract I’ve used) from Horace: parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus ?

I tried Google and got the mountains are in labour, security issues. Even without dim memories of third form Latin I would doubt that is what it means.


Broad church vs bunch of factions

September 26, 2014

The National Party has always prided itself on being a broad church, and it still is.

Its membership includes economic and social conservatives and liberals.

They hold a variety of positions on policies and issues but members are united by the party’s visions and values.

Labour might once have been a broad church too but now it looks, and acts, like a bunch of factions, at best united by what they’re against and with little if any unity on what they’re for.

This isn’t new.

A journalist who covered party conferences more than 20 years ago said that was the case then.

People leapt on to the Labour bus, not because they were wedded to its principles, but because they saw it as a vehicle to advance their own diverse agendas.

It’s never easy to keep different factions in line, but it’s less difficult for a party in government and Helen Clark managed to do it.

Once Labour was in opposition, she moved on to the United Nations and the discipline which had kept the party together crumbled.

Labour is undergoing an independent review of its campaign which had many shortcomings.

But the best campaign in the world wouldn’t have overcome a party and caucus riven with dissent and with fundamental divisions in its membership and meaning.


Governing for all

September 25, 2014

National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.

One of the accusations thrown at National from the more rabid elements of the left is that it is only interested in helping the wealthy.

It is certainly the party which wants the country and its people to be wealthier but that won’t be achieved by policies which help any one sector at the expense of another.

And the aim of increasing wealth isn’t an end in itself but the means which provides us with more and better opportunities.


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